Helpdesk Top Questions: October 2023
Here are some of the questions keeping the NDS Helpdesk team busy over the past month.
We are a registered SDA provider and would like to clarify if we are required by law to provide a potential resident, their guardian or nominee with an easy-read version of the SDA Residential Tenancy Agreement? I am aware that Consumer Affairs Victoria has produced one, but I am unable to find equivalent easy-read SDA RTA documents for other states and territories.
Secondly, does NDS have any SDA RTA easy-read templates that we could use?
In Victoria, SDA providers have obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. When entering into or establishing a SDA residency agreement or entering into a RTA for a short-term lease, they must provide the resident with a matching information statement. You need to explain to the resident, in a way that they can easily understand, the relevant information statement, any notice you give them and any order or direction from VCAT. You can do this in writing or orally, which may include the use of plain English or easy-read documents.
The Victorian Residential Tenancies Act does not require you to provide an easy-read version of the SDA Residential Tenancies agreement. However, as in any contractual agreement, there is a legal obligation that both parties understand or have assistance in understanding the agreement. An easy-read version of the document may help fulfill this requirement. The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission’s practice standards for SDA providers include the requirement that:
“Any agreement or contract entered into with each participant, and any communication with the participant about the provision of specialist disability accommodation, including about rights and responsibilities in relation to the dwelling, is responsive to their needs and provided in the language, mode of communication and terms which that participant is most likely to understand.”
NDS does not have an easy-read SDA RTA. However, in addition to the Consumer Affairs Victoria template, which covers the legal requirements in that state, the Tenants Union in NSW provides fact sheets which serve a similar function.
As a Support Coordination provider, we have a service agreement in place which indicates a 30-day notice period. Does the new PACE system still allow a provider to have a 30-day notice period? When do these 30 days fall? Is it from when a client requests to change SC provider? Does this mean SC provider has 30 days to get prior claims in or 30 days to complete hand-over after a client requests a change?
Support coordinators can process claims for up to 30 days for supports delivered up to the end date of the relationship in the system. Claims for supports delivered after the end of the relationship would be rejected.
When relationships are end-dated, a discussion will occur with participants as to the date that will be applied. Participants are encouraged to consider agreements in place with providers, but ultimately that is a decision that sits with them.
Is there a new process to allow a Support Coordinator provider to process claims on the day or up to a period after a client passes away? Currently, service bookings for SC closes on the day of client’s death and Support Coordinator providers are unable to bill on a client’s deceased date. Providers or families often ask us to inform other providers and NDIS about client’s death.
The Agency has advised that there have been no changes to the process. If supports are delivered after a participant's date of death, a payment enquiry will need to be submitted and this would be considered by the NDIA on an individual basis.
I'm seeking some advice on a supported employee who is not turning up for work. I'm not sure if you offer advice on how to performance-manage supported employees?
Employers should have workplace policies and procedures for leave. These should cover absenteeism and abandonment of employment, and all employees should be made aware of the process in the event of absence or the end of employment. Employees are expected to be present at work for their employment responsibilities every time they have a scheduled shift. If they are not, all parties should refer to the employee absence policy to comply with employment law and follow due process when managing staff and absenteeism.
This is the same when employing staff in the disability sector. As part of their certification requirements, ADEs are expected to have internal policies and procedures in place for such cases.
While we do provide an external IR or HR advisory service, you should note that your workplace policies should be inclusive of all employees and not specific to any one group, such as supported employees. We suggest reaching out to another ADE to ask about their processes, with a view to sharing approaches and resources.
When a participant requires a one-off change in their supports — for example, an Active support shift after surgery — do we need to complete a new service agreement?
It is not necessary to create a whole new service agreement for a one-off support, but we would recommend an addendum or appendix that confirms the participant's agreement to receive and be billed for the additional supports. The document should clarify what will be billed and for how long the temporary additional support is to be provided.
With this addendum in place, if this support is provided to someone who has SIL funding and depending on the amount, you may be able to claim against the 'irregular supports' that form part of the SIL. If this is the case, you may want to check the NDIS resource for claiming in irregular supports.
Alternatively, if the irregular support amount is insufficient for the service being provided, you will need to clarify how the extra support cost will be billed to the participant's plan, since there may be an impact on the budget for other services. It is important to ensure the participant understands this.
A support coordinator advised us that the Agency is no longer approving single resident Robust SDA. Is this correct, for robust or any other category? The participant's plan in question did not specify whether the SDA funding was for single or shared accommodation, and I could not match the funding within the NDIS SDA calculator for cross referencing.
There is still funding for the Robust category. However, the NDIS Pricing Arrangements for Specialist Disability Accommodation (pdf or Word, page 20) states that funding for SDA housing for new builds after 2023 for one resident requiring Robust (with or without on-site overnight accommodation) has a minimum building type of villa, duplex or townhouse. There are clarifying tables on the following pages.